Reactor

New Software Helps you Stencil In Your QR Codes

by An Xiao on March 22, 2012

A stencil created from the QR_Stenciler software. Image via http://fffff.at.

A stencil created from the QR_Stenciler software. (image via http://fffff.at)

LOS ANGELES — I see them everywhere these days. QR Codes have become a staple the world over, in large advertisements and small handouts in multiple countries. They don’t always make sense, but it’s impossible to deny their ubiquity.

The one place I rarely see them is on street art and murals. The new QR_Stenciler, a Processing-based application developed by F.A.T. Labs, now makes it easy. The downloadable software takes a standard QR code and turns it into a PDF that can then be manipulated and edited for a laser cutter.

Fred Trotter illustrates why a simple stencil wouldn't work: stencil islands. Image via fredtrotter.com.

Fred Trotter illustrates why a simple stencil wouldn't work: stencil islands. (image via fredtrotter.com)

Why not just fire up Illustrator and make your own QR codes? F.A.T. Labs pointed to a post by Fred Trotter identifying part of the issue:

But what is the problem with a QR code stencil? In a word, islands. In order to make a stencil with, say, photo paper (which would otherwise be a great technique), you need a way to address bits that the stencil needs to block, that are not physically connected to the rest of the stencil. Its easier to show than explain.

The QR_Stenciler side steps this with hair-thin cuts that hold the islands in place while allowing you to easily spray paint the entire area.

It’s not clear yet whether QR codes are here to stay, or if they’re a growing trend of that will be replaced one day by near field communications or RFID.  But unlike the latter, QR codes remain very much physical, and therefore a great tool for artists.

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